Part of what makes a business successful is being the go-to in your specific market offering – this is not an easy task and requires a lot of thought and planning to decide upon. For many businesses, just identifying their USP can be a hard task, never mind developing their entire business model. In this article, we consider the steps to take to help you define your USP.
What Is A USP?
A USP, or ‘Unique Selling Proposition’, is a statement that your business embodies that clarifies what makes your company, service, product or brand unique, enabling you to stand out from competitors.
Popular, breakthrough products and services need to have simple, clear and precise answers to consumer needs. You want to showcase that you can offer the exact solution a consumer needs to their problem, and show why you will benefit them as a brand if they put their trust in you. Being able to do so through your USP is the aim.
What Isn’t A USP?
If you’re entering a crowded market, it can be a real challenge to find one aspect of your brand that isn’t replicated amongst your competition, and you don’t want to be clutching at straws for the sake of having a USP. For this reason, it is important to consider what isn’t a USP.
Firstly, it isn’t just the header copy on your homepage, it needs to be a statement that encompasses your positioning as a whole business throughout your brand, product and/or service.
Additionally, your USP shouldn’t be specific marketing offers. Marketing offers are convincing and effective, but they are not unique. They aren’t a positioning statement that can’t be replicated, as any of your competitors could offer free postage or 25% for a given period.
Ultimately, it needs to be something core to the philosophy of your business; something you are proud of and are able to maintain in the long run.
The core of your USP needs to be how you want to be positioned in your target market. This may be based upon one of these factors, or a combination of more than one. Ideas include:
A Completely Unique Product Or Service – this is a hard USP type to firstly find, but also to justify. However, it is possibly the strongest USP type there is. Simply, if you have a completely unique offer or service then shout about that!
Your Process – Is your product made in a unique way? Is your service delivered in a way that is valued by your market?
A Compelling Brand Story – people love personable brands, and this is hard to copy amongst competitors. But it must reflect your product/service and provide a clear benefit to your audience, too.
Your Guarantee – if you can provide a guarantee that is very hard for your competitors to match, as well as something that your market would like, then a guarantee provides a sense of trustworthiness when people think of your brand.
Utilise Your Location – Your service or product may not be unique but if nobody else provides it in your area then this is often a great selling point, especially given the current trend putting emphasis on supporting local.
Why Do You Need A USP?
Having a USP is important as it is a means to communicate how your want your product/service and brand to be perceived by your market. If done effectively your strategy will be streamlined and your appeal over the competition should be clear to consumers.
How To Write A USP Statement
What a lot of businesses forget is that it isn’t necessarily what you sell that has to be unique, but the message you choose to focus on that your competition doesn't. Two key things that your USP should always be, are:
Compelling and assertive: you need to be able to defend what makes you and your products/service memorable and unique. If you have a more generic stance, such as ‘high-quality products’, then you will not be the only business in your market that consumers feel is the answer to their requirements.
Based on your consumers: you need to think about what your target audience really values and cares about.
To aid your USP mind mapping, we have compiled four actions worth doing to help you to develop your thinking. These actions are:
1. List your brand differentiators
A good starting activity is to list out all your potential differentiators in regard to your brand, product(s) and service – and be as specific as possible.
2. Research your competition
By understanding who your competitors are and what their USPs are, you can look for gaps where your brand can outshine them. Once, you have done your research, you will want to track back through all your data and really focus on one niche gap.
3. Always track back to your target audience
Once you have your list and your research, you need to consider whether there are any customer needs that haven’t been considered within your business model. You don’t want to be in a position where your competitors could see your pain points and capitalise on these, for their own USPs, if you can help it.
Consider these questions:
Do they already buy your product/service from a competitor?
Can your brand actually fill a gap in the market? Does your consumer actually want your product/service?
Are you aiming for a B2B or B2C audience?
What channels can you use to market to your consumer?
4. Write a positioning statement
Have a go at writing a positioning statement – this will be a great piece of info for your business plan, whether you are starting out or developing your existing business model.
Here is a very basic template to get you started:
[Your businesses name] provides [your product/service] for [target market] to [value proposition]. Unlike [your competitors], [your business name and your key differentiator].
This first draft wone be what you eventually use or advertise but should prove to be a useful activity in clarifying what your USP is to develop your business model.
Getting Your Business Model Right
In order to excel as a business, you need to show that you are the best at what you do – and this requires research, planning, and know-how, and that’s where cbm can help.
Get in touch to find out more about how cbm can create a blueprint for your forward business. To speak with one of our expert consultants please call us on 01604 420 420 or complete the form on the right.